Monday, February 22, 2010

Pizza This Week

Well... I had pizza today. Imo's in Collinsville. I was visiting my folks and since I am unable to get a fresh Imo's pie here in central Illinois they are always open to a little pizza when I am in town. My dad loves it because my visits usually guarantee a a couple of pies from the local Imo's.

I remain on my diet which is strictly enforced during the week. Salads, light soups, fish and fresh fruit will dominate again this week. I've dropped just about twenty pounds in the last month and right now I am sitting at just about a biscuit over 300. Fit Club West is still a regular stop in my day.

My plan for pizza this week revolves around the monthly poker game this Saturday night. I will come bearing some pizza pies and will get individual gambler reactions to the pizza along with my own review.

The pizza parlor in my sights? That will stay secret for now.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quick Stop @ Horsehoe Bar & Grill - Collinsville, IL

TJ says... " that's the best pizza I ever had."

Horseshoe Sports Bar

Saturday Morning View

Checking in from breakfast on my way to put in some overtime at work. On the menu this morning? A slice of amazing breakfast pizza from Casey's. Butter brushed crust, eggs, sausage, cheddar jack cheese... Mmmmmmmm.

Morning goodness.
Washed it down with a Snapple diet peach green tea.

That is all.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Blue Duck is cooked

We had a restaurant in town that opened about 6 months or so ago. Overall their food wasn't that great but they did have a few dishes that were pretty good. I was partial to their Pot Roast dish with potatoes and carrots. It was one of their better menu items. I noticed toward the end of their run they were trying new things including offering chili and sooup and sandwiches. They also had an amped up horseshoe cheese made from pepperjack on the menu. I regret I didn't get a chance to try the chili and the new horseshoe. Their original horseshoe was just bad.

I guess I am disappointed The Blue Duck didn't succeed because it's nice to have a few restaurants in town to choose from and the folks who ran it seemed friendly enough.

Guess they should have tried pizza.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Weekend Notes: 02/14/10

No pizza for me this week. We did have Mexican last night from Cancun in Sherman.

I lost another 3 pounds last week and I am on the verge of dropping below three bills for the first time in 3 years.

We have a family day planned for this hallmark holiday. Bitty basketball followed by a trip to Build-a-Bear and supper out...most likely at a steakhouse. We are leaning toward Texas Roadhouse.

See ya over a pizza!


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Just up the road: PJ's Pizza & Pasta

Well we were in Mason City to watch a little hoops, (Illini Central vs. Pleasant Plains) and also to watch the halftime show. Our good friend's twin 4 year old daughters were dancing in the halftime show so I figured I'd snag a few pics of them. After the game/halftime show we rolled down the street to have dinner at PJ's.

Where they're located:
124 E. Chestnut St.
Mason City, IL

Call 'Em:

The Pizza: Cajun

The Crust: Hand-tossed

The Dish: PJ's is a different kind of restaurant. It is a small town eating establishment that offers meals that are more likely found in a big city specialty joint. There are two dining areas here and really two different restaurants. On one side you have PJ's and the other is considered Jack & Jo's. You can order off either menu regardless of what dining room you are seated in.
PJ's is in downtown Mason City right next to Mason City Limits comedy club. The atmosphere is friendly and local and the restaurant's owner, John Means can usually be found seating people or visiting with the diners.

How'd it eat? My pizza arrived after about 15 minutes and a couple of cold Budweisers. The smell of fresh garlic, marinara and sizzling steak was filling up the dining area as the server brought everyone's food. The cajun pizza sitting front of me was loaded with toppings of chicken, chorizo and shrimp. The flavor on this pie was well balanced and rested comfortably on the zesty creme based cajun pizza sauce mixed up by the chef at PJ's. As wonderful as the meat toppings were it was the sauce that really made this pie. The sauce had the consitency of a nice alfredo and had distinct seasoning from cayenne or red pepper and a little paprika among other flavors. It's not too strong or spicy. Even those who are easily overpowered by spice will not have any issues with this pie.
The cheese appeared to be a mixture of mozzarella and jack and it fused well with the spicy chorizo and mild shrimp. This mixture allowed the flavors of the meat toppings and the robust sauce to carry the pie.
Crustwise this pizza got it done. The crust was a slim hand-tossed that tasted like it was maybe brushed with olive oil or had some bit of seasoning added. It had a smart crunch all the way to the center, with a firm top and it was not overdone. I sprinkled on a little crushed red pepper to add some spice to this pie. I likey some spicy.

The 30 minute drive up to Mason City from Springfield is definitely worth the trip. You're gonna get a tasty pizza with a little small town charm...and if you plan it right an evening of laughter at Mason City Limits. Try PJ's out, you won't be sorry.
SPP Ranking: 8.6

Monday, February 8, 2010

Gallina's Pizza

Ended up on the east side of town again on a Friday for the much anticipated showdown between the Lincoln Railsplitters and the Southeast Spartans for a piece of the Central State 8 crown. Needing another pizza on the east side of town I found my way into Gallina Pizza at the Capital City Shopping Center. Glad I wondered in...

Where they're located:
3133 South Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL 62703-4501

Call 'Em:
(217) 529-0649

The Pizza:
Spinach and Bacon

The Crust: Hand Tossed

The Dish: You don't see many pizza parlors in the Springfield area where you make your order at a counter or window and then go sit down and wait for a slice or entire pie to delivered to your table.
Now I had heard some people say they had a long wait for their pizza after they made their order, even for just a slice. It appears to me those may have been exagerations. It took me about 12 minutes to get my pizza and while I waited I enjoyed an excellent salad topped with the Gallina house Italian dressing and a fat green olive on top. The salad was enjoyable and the dressing was especially good.
One of the interesting aspects of Gallina's is the decor. There are Italian flags, posters of Italian landmarks, Serie A soccer club paraphernalia and other photographs of family and friends who frequest this restaurant. It's an eclectic mix of adornments but it works. Cold Peroni beer kept me satisfied after I finished my salad and waited for my pie to be delivered.

How'd it eat? My pizza arrived in a timely manner and was served with shakers of parm and crushed red pepper. The pizza was served piping hot straight from the oven and it looked and smelled wonderful. I burned the roof of my mouth with hot cheese because I couldn't wait long enough for it to cool a little.
This pizza featured an excellent fusion of toppings and cheese. The bubbly hot mozzarella blanketed the crispy bacon and tasty green spinach. I think the bacon/spinach topping combo is one of the better choices for a good pizza.
The crust could have been a tad bit better. It was slightly overcooked on one of the quadrants . The top of the pizza was cooked just about as good as it could have been though. The edge of the crust that was overcooked could have been due to the extremely hot oven. Sometimes these ovens over time don't heat evenly causing the pies to need to be turned and shifted more often.
The sauce was not anything special but it was rendered in appropriate amounts. Not too much, not too little, but just enough.
Gallina Pizza was very good and really... a pleasant surprise. This is a true mom and pop pizza joint and is nice place to enjoy some pie with friend or family.
SPP Ranking: 7.9

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl Sunday? No Pie For This Guy!

As you may or may not know, I am completing my Springfield Pizza Project in conjuction with a diet and lifestyle change. Which means regular workouts and a radical diet upgrade. Unfortunately upgrade DOES NOT mean more pizza. It means less pizza on the whole. Instead of sitting down and demolishing an entire large pie I am just putting a dent in a small one. So for now everything is good on my program. I began it on January 19th and today is February 7th. That's 20 days. I weighed this past Friday (day 18) and I was down 12.2 pounds since beginning the program. I am proud of that considering there are 6 pizza reviews completed during this span.

So today I plan to eat a little too much and also drink a llittle to much as well. I enjoyed pizza the last two evenings for dinner so today I'm going to fall off the wagon with summer sausage, cheese and crackers, wings, chips, dips and plenty of Old Milwaukee light beer of choice right now.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday. Go NFC!!!!!

P.S. - Stay tuned for reviews on Gallina Pizza in Springfield and PJ's Pizza & Pasta in Mason City.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Checkin in' from Gallina

I know, I know.... I still owe an update on my trip to Bernie & Betty's last saturday night. I'll get to it I promise. Right now however, I am sitting at Gallina Pizza sipping a cold Peroni and waiting for my Friday night pie. Lincoln @ Southeast basketball game to follow.

- PizzaMan

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bingo! Bernie & Betty's Pizza

After many recommendations we finally got into the mom and pop joint on the corner of Spring and Allen in Springfield. It was a plus that we got to enjoy this pizza with family and on a Saturday night. So there was good company to go along with even better pizza.

Where they're located:
1101 Spring Street
Springfield, IL 62704-2925

Call 'Em:
(217) 528-1821

The Pizza:
Pepperoni, Tomato and green pepper

The Crust: Thin

The Dish:
We attended mass at St. Joseph's Catholic church on the northend of town and then met at B&B for some dinner. This was my last "birthday dinner" as my birthday was already 10 days gone but we are close with my wife's Aunt and Uncle and so they wanted to take me out to eat for my birthday. I thought this would be a good a time as any to enjoy some pizza from Bernie and Betty's.
They take reservations here so we had a table set for 5:45PM and were immediately seated when we got there. The restaurant wasn't too busy at this point which we appreciated because we were heading out to watch some MMA later in the evening.
We ordered drinks and an appetizer and waited for the pies to arrive. Deep fried mushrooms, mozzarella cheese and onion rings arrived quickly and weren't remarkable. Probably no different than you can get anywhere else around town.

I think the service could have been a little more attentive considering we got there early before the restaurant filled up. There were a couple of times when thirsty diners at our table were left staring at empty glasses. That's not to say the service was bad... Our server was very friendly and accomodating, just not easily accessable. Luckily... The pizza helped me forget about all that.

How'd it eat? There's no reason to beat around the bush. This pizza was very, very good. It was loaded with fresh toppings, an even amount of gooey mozzarella cheese, a wonderful sweet, tangy tomato sauce all on top of an expertly baked, crispy, crunchy thin crust. I didn't find any drawbacks to this pizza at all. While I enjoy most pizzas I sample there are almost always little aspects of each pizza I would like to see done differently or improved. I have no such comments about Bernie and Betty's thin crust pizza. This is certainly one of the best pies in town.

Being that I had dinner here with a group we decided to try one of the Bernie and Betty's San Francisco sourdough crust pizza pies. The toppings chosen were sausage and Canadian bacon but the crust was definitely the star on this pie pan.

I gotta say... there was a little bit of sweetness with the sourdough that was amazing. I'm not sure if it was the sauce that was doing it but this crust really meshed well with the sauce and the cheese. The Canadian bacon was outstanding as well but I didn't care for the sausage much on this pie. Switch the sausage out for some pineapple and this crust and mixture would be perfect for a Hawaiian style pizza. Don't plan on gobbling 5or 6 slices of this pie down in one sitting unless you have an enormous appetite. The SF sourdough is seriously filling.

Overall I was most impressed with the pizza sauce that Bernie and Betty's delivers but the overall package is about as good as it gets in and around Springfield. Also included in the offficial review is the SF sourdough pizza which is an excellent choice if you are looking for something different than a traditional Springfield thin crust pie. Either way you're gonna be a winner.

SPP Ranking: 9.2